Ray Bradbury died this morning. If you don’t know who Ray Bradbury is, immediately go and get a copy of The Martian Chronicles or Fahrenheit 451.
Now read it.
Now you know what the world has lost. So after you finish this, go and read some of his thousands of short stories. Not just science fiction; stories of innocence, of evil, of Ireland, of Illinois.
At least he lived to the age of 91, and produced great stories all the way along.
I have a special relationship with Ray Bradbury, though I never met the man.
I was at the tail-end of the Baby Boom, and when I moved into my brand-new elementary school, someone had been kind enough to populate the library with Bradbury’s collections R is for Rocket and S if for Space–books which are manifestly not written for elementary-school audiences. But when I was 10 or so, I was eating up all of the science fiction in the library, and came across those books.
I can still recall turning the first few pages of “Chrysalis,” the first story in S is for Space. It didn’t just bend my mind, it broke it. Bradbury opened me to reading SF that wasn’t just space opera, so by 13 I had read Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land among other things.
He was a wonderful writer who managed to do with $1 words what most writers can’t with $50 words. He wrote simply and clearly, and somehow in doing so got inside your head.
He will be greatly missed. My fond hope is that somehow, somewhere, walking through a desert, he raises his arms to the sky and ascends–straight to his favorite pub in Ireland.